Tuesday, November 19, 2019
A walking billboard. . .
I know that the collar is still eschewed by some in Lutheran circles, perhaps many. I know that many still think of it simply as personal preference. In reality it is more serious than a fashion statement. A clerical collar clearly marks you as a minister of Christ's Church and is a walking billboard of liturgical, confessional, and orthodox Christianity. I have no proof but I have the deep suspicion that the real reason some Lutherans do not wear the collar is that they do not want to bring that attention to themselves.
It is attention. Nearly everywhere I go in the community someone will either recognize me or my parish or the Christian faith because of that little bit of plasticized fabric worn around my neck. I get asked for money, for prayers, for advice, for counsel, and a host of other things -- only because they see my clerical collar. I have had babies dumped into my arms on airplanes and even a mother ask me to take her son into the restroom (obviously pre the abuse scandals!). But most of the time people come up to to me with concerns for the faith, with questions about doctrine and piety, and with stories of their own struggles in the faith over time. The clerical collar opens mouths up even if it does not open many doors anymore.
If I could have my way, I would make it a rule that every Lutheran pastor had to wear a clerical collar. It will never happen, of course, even if we were about to pass laws on such a thing. Lutherans instinctively resist authority (even the authority of God!). Nobody would give me the time of day after such a rule was laid down! But the reason I believe it should be made has nothing to do with personal preference. It has everything to do with the fact that the pastor in clerical collar is a walking billboard for the faith and for the Church even when he says nothing or does nothing particularly religious or winsome. If for this reason only, it would be worth it to make every pastor purchase and wear a clerical collar.
But you are free to disagree. You may be wrong but I think I am pretty much on target with this. Pastors and priests who ditch the collar are trying to preserve the anonymity that will prevent them from being outed as a man of the cloth when they want to be incognito.